Time to Shine Awards recognise the hard work of staff and students

December 16, 2021

As part of this year’s #SparkleAtNESCol Winter Festival, we invited students and staff to nominate their colleagues, classmates, lecturers and support staff for a Time to Shine Award. The Awards were established last year as a way to recognise those from within the NESCol community who have had positive impact on the lives of others in the wider community during an unprecedented year. In 2021 we celebrate our second set of worthy winners.

For two weeks, submissions came in from across the College, full of inspiring stories about our staff and students – people who had given up their own time for others in so many ways – the panel had a very difficult job on their hands.

Although there could only be three winners, each and every person who was nominated deserves a huge thank you for their acts of selflessness, kindness and compassion. But in the end, after much deliberation, three winners were chosen, and we are delighted to share their stories with you.

The winners are:

  • Michael Riddell – Lecturer in Care
  • Gary Graham – Lecturer in Learning Opportunities
  • Preparation and Qualification for Work students (A Groups) from Fraserburgh Campus


Michael Riddell

While teaching an online class earlier this year, it became apparent that one of Michael’s students was behaving strangely. Becoming increasingly concerned, Michael called 112 to raise the alarm with the police and – when his student collapsed on camera – the ambulance service. He remained calm, and his level-headed attitude also helped to keep his class, the student, and the student’s partner calm while they waited for the emergency services to arrive.

It was subsequently discovered that the student had been suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning – meaning that Michael’s quick thinking potentially saved their life. His professionalism and response to a very dangerous and stressful situation make him most definitely worthy of a Time to Shine Award.

Michael said: “I was surprised to find out I had been nominated. First aid is something I’m trained to do and am training others to do – I was actually teaching a first aid class when it happened. It feels good to be recognised, but I think I did what anyone would have in that situation.”


Gary Graham and the Preparation/Qualification for Work students

The next two winners go hand in hand with one another. When lecturer Gary nominated his classes for their hard work on sustainable shopping and food-poverty during the year, he was not anticipating that he too would receive a Time to Shine nomination.

Gary has been instrumental in all of the work the students have completed, which included:

  • Successfully partnering up with the Trussell Trust and setting up a foodbank drop off point to tackle hunger within our communities.
  • Partnering with local food organization CFINE to offer low-cost fruit & veg hampers to both staff and students, using the profits from those sales to create additional hampers to support students who are referred to local food banks.
  • Re-opening The Shoppie in Fraserburgh Campus, which is a low-cost and economical outlet for staff and students by selling reduced goods in The Shoppie such as clothes, home bakes, jewellery and much more.

Gary said: “I was shocked to hear I’d been nominated – so many people have been involved in this project. But I’m so proud of the learning ops students and the work they’ve done.

“The group have worked so hard, especially during such uncertain times, but they have done such an excellent job with the fruit and veg hampers, supporting the College’s Spotlight on Sustainability, and gaining skills in retail and enterprise, all while supporting a local charity (CFINE).”